China Ends Quarantine For Overseas Travellers
China lifted quarantine requirements for domestic travelers on Sunday, ending nearly three years of self-isolation even as the country faces a surge in Covid-19 cases.
Beijing last month began aggressively lifting its tough virus strategy that has enforced mandatory quarantine measures and grueling lockdowns.
Containment has weakened the Chinese economy and sparked nationwide protests.
In the final unraveling of those rules, Sunday will see domestic travelers to China no longer subject to quarantine.
As of March 2020, all arrivals have been forced to quarantine at centralized government facilities. This has dropped from three weeks to a week this summer and down to five days in November.
People in China rushed to plan overseas trips after officials last month announced that the quarantine would be lifted, sending queries on popular travel websites skyrocketing.
But the expected spike in visitors has led more than a dozen countries to impose mandatory Covid tests on travelers from the world’s most populous country as the country grapples with a bad outbreak. worst ever.
The outbreak is forecast to worsen as China enters the Lunar New Year holiday this month, during which millions are expected to move from the hard-hit megacities to the region. countryside to visit vulnerable elderly relatives.
Beijing has called travel curbs imposed by other countries “unacceptable”, although it continues to block the majority of foreign tourists and international students from entering China. .
‘As much as possible’
Despite the testing requirements, Zhang Kai, 28, told AFP he was planning a trip to South Korea or Japan.
“I’m happy, now (I can) finally let go,” Zhang said.
His friends went to Japan and underwent tests, which he considered “small thing”.
Across Asia, tourist hubs are gearing up for a spike in Chinese visitors.
At a crepe stall in Seoul, Son Kyung-rak said he is planning to deal with the overcrowding of tourists.
“We’re looking for rent and preparing to stock up,” the 24-year-old told AFP in Seoul’s popular downtown Myeongdong district.
“Chinese tourists are our main customers, so the more the merrier.”
In Tokyo, cartoonist Masashi Higashitani is honing his Chinese skills to prepare for more tourists.
However, while telling AFP he was excited about China’s reopening, he also acknowledged some concerns.
“I wonder if an excessive amount of them might be beyond our capacity. I also worry that we need to be more careful about anti-virus measures,” he told AFP. .
Hong Kong is open
In the southern semi-autonomous Chinese city of Hong Kong, Sunday will also see a major easing of strict cross-border travel restrictions with mainland China.
Hong Kong’s recession-hit economy is yearning to reconnect with its biggest source of growth, and families divided by boundaries are looking forward to being reunited during the Lunar New Year.
Up to 50,000 Hong Kong residents will be able to cross the border daily at three land-based checkpoints after registering online.
City leader John Lee said another 10,000 people will be allowed in by sea, air or bridge without prior registration.
A total of more than 280,000 people signed up to make the journey within a day of the new regulations being announced.
However, Hong Kong travelers are still required to present negative nucleic acid test results no later than 48 hours prior to departure.
Immigration authorities will begin issuing permits to mainlanders to visit Hong Kong and Macau “depending on the epidemic situation and service capacity”, the city said.
Hong Kong’s flag carrier Cathay Pacific said it would more than double its flights to mainland China.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from an aggregated feed.)
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